General Motors’ Pontiac division was knocked out more than six years ago, but the city of Pontiac, Michigan, has a fresh contender, a new headliner called the M1 Concourse. Featuring a mixed-use road course, private garages, and event space, the facility has hyped up the Detroit area’s motorsports clubs, manufacturers, dealers, and garden-variety gearheads.
Built on the 87-acre ruins of a GM factory and envisioned originally as a car condominium complex for metro Detroit’s thriving culture of classic and performance automotive collectors, M1 Concourse evolved quickly under the watch of founder and CEO Brad Oleshansky. The ambitious project now includes a 1.5-mile racetrack and skidpad and plans for expansive retail and restaurant facilities.
“Metro Detroit is the center of automotive culture, and we clearly are answering a need,” says M1 client experience manager Chas Ostezan. “Nobody wants to travel two hours to farm country when there’s the opportunity to have a garage and a track in your backyard.”
Of the 250 planned garages, roughly 140 have been sold as construction continues. The units range from basic $105,000, 600-square-foot spaces to tricked-out 2,400-square-footers with polished concrete, rooftop patios, viewing decks, multi-car hoists, and $1 million-plus price tags. We visited a 1,200-square-foot garage belonging to Julie and Bob Hertzberg, which also incorporated a balcony with glass floor cutouts, a kitchen, living room, and a bed that folds up into the wall. If you want to leave the world behind and elope to a racetrack with about six cars, now you can keep your 248 area code.
If you own a garage, you’re also eligible for a motorsports club membership that offers up to eight hours per week of track time, unlimited instruction, and access to special events. Cost of entry is $5,000 for initiation and $3,500 per year for one driver. That cost is halved for each additional driver.
The tight, 1.5-mile track features 11 turns with mild elevation changes, one long straight, and a few sweepers tailor-made for smoky drifting. There are also quite a few walls, which means you’re likely to pay for any mistakes you make. An off-road course for winter activities is also in the works — good thinking because the track is neither plowed nor salted during Michigan’s frigid months.
Surely M1 is a welcome addition for well-to-do car guys too lazy to drive to tracks in western Michigan or central Ohio, but the Concourse has lit a fire under the city of Pontiac with several special events. Ranging from the Michigan Rib Fest to Roadkill Nights, which attracted 35,000 muscle-car fans to Woodward Avenue for live drag racing during the summer Dream Cruise, Oleshansky and his team are keen on including the community outside its membership. “We’ll continue to change the flavor of the Dream Cruise next year,” Ostezan said. “M1 will put Pontiac back on the map.”